When a sewage pipe burst in the
middle of the neighbourhood of Silwan in southeast Jerusalem in 2004, workers
were sent to fix the leak, accompanied by a team of archaeologists. During the
repairs, workers stumbled upon some stairs close to where the Shiloah was
believed to have once stood. This was the ancient pool Jewish pilgrims would
dip in before beginning the religious ascent to the Temple. According to Doron
Spielman, vice president of the Ir David Foundation (Elad), almost all Jewish
pilgrims would have entered the city along this road. Spielman claims this is a
road that Jesus almost certainly used during the Second Temple period.
by Geoffrey Grider
June 28, 2019
Pilgrimage Road goes all the way from the Shiloah Pool to the area adjacent to
the Western Wall known as Robinson’s Arch, where today you can still see
remnants of the ancient stairway that led into the Jewish Temple.
The deeper you dig anywhere in Israel, the more you discover remnants of the amazing and storied history of the
Jewish people in the land. This latest find, a pilgrimage road dating back to
the time of Jesus of Nazareth, is astonishing when you realize what it truly
is. It’s the actual pathway that pilgrims, Jewish and gentile, walked to reach
the Temple so they could worship God and offer sacrifice as commanded in the
Law of Moses. Jesus Himself would have walked these steps, and
very shortly you’ll be able to do the exact same thing when it will be opened
“And at the fountain gate,
which was over against them, they went up by the stairs of the city of David,
at the going up of the wall, above the house of David, even unto the water gate
eastward. And the other company of them that gave thanks went
over against them, and I after them, and the half of the people
upon the wall, from beyond the tower of the furnaces even unto the broad wall;” Nehemiah
When a sewage pipe burst in the middle of the neighbourhood of Silwan in southeast
Jerusalem in 2004, workers were sent to fix the leak, accompanied by a team
of archaeologists. During the repairs,
workers stumbled upon some stairs close to where the Shiloah was believed to
have once stood. This was the ancient pool Jewish pilgrims would dip in before
beginning the religious ascent to the Temple. According to Doron Spielman, vice
president of the Ir David Foundation (Elad), almost all Jewish pilgrims would
have entered the city along this road. Spielman claims this is a road that Jesus almost certainly used during
the Second Temple period.
To me, all these discoveries in the past few years relating to the last standing Jewish
Temple sure makes me think that God is preparing the world to see the creation
of another one. You know, the one that Daniel 9 and Jesus in Matthew 24 tell us
will be used by Antichrist.
DISCOVERY IN JERUSALEM’S CITY OF DAVID: 2,000-YEAR-OLD PILGRIMAGE ROAD
FROM THE JERUSALEM POST: In 2004, a sewage pipe burst in the middle of the
neighborhood of Silwan in southeast Jerusalem. The municipality sent in a crew
of construction workers to fix the leak, and as is the case in Jerusalem and
especially in neighborhoods adjacent to the Old City, they were accompanied by
a team of archeologists.
As the repairs progressed, the construction workers stumbled upon some long and wide
stairs a few dozen meters from where the Shiloah – the ancient pool Jewish
pilgrims would dip in before beginning the religious ascent to the Temple,
until its destruction in 70 CE – was believed to have once stood. The steps
were just like the ones that lead to the Hulda Gates, a set of now blocked
entrances along the Temple Mount’s Southern Wall.
Discovery of the Shiloah Pool led to another monumental
find – the central water drainage channel that had served ancient Jerusalem.
This channel is the tunnel that visitors to the City of David – known as Ir
David – get to walk through today, starting at the bottom of the Shiloah and
emerging about 45 minutes later next to the Western Wall.
As is often the case with
archeology, though, the first discovery or two are just the beginning. That is
how a few weeks ago I found myself on an exclusive tour of an ancient road dug
out beneath the village of Silwan and above the now well-known water channel
(also the place where Jewish rebels made a final stand against the Roman
The ancient street is referred to as
“Pilgrimage Road,” since archeologists are convinced that this is the path
millions of Jews took three times a year when performing the commandment of
aliyah l’regel – going up to the holy city of Jerusalem to bring sacrifices to
God during Judaism’s three key holidays, Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot.
The Pilgrimage Road goes all the way
from the Shiloah Pool to the area adjacent to the Western Wall known as
Robinson’s Arch, where today you can still see remnants of the ancient stairway
that led into the Jewish Temple.
Titus Flavius Josephus, the first-century Roman-Jewish historian,
wrote that 2.7 million people used to visit
Jerusalem during the various Jewish holidays, bringing with them some 256,000
sacrifices. Almost all of the Jewish pilgrims, according to Doron Spielman,
vice president of the Ir David Foundation (Elad), would have entered the city
on this road. It is a road that Jesus almost certainly used during the Second
Temple period, alongside many of the famous Jewish scholars and leaders of that
“This place is the heart of the
Jewish people, and is like the blood that courses through our veins,” Spielman
Here is one example: Hillel and Shammai – the famous first-century scholars who
figure prominently in the Mishna – debate at what stage in a child’s
development his father is obligated to include him in the pilgrimage. Shammai,
the stringent one, says that a child should be included as long as he can sit
on his father’s shoulders. Hillel says only if the child is able to walk up the
750-meter road need he be included.
Walking the road – as of now Ir David has excavated about 250 meters of it –
you can imagine the throngs of people parading on it 2,000 years ago. Young
boys walking next to their parents. Girls on their fathers’ shoulders. So far,
only some of the stores that once lined the road have been partially uncovered,
but with imagination you can hear the bartering that took place here – people
trading leather for fur, seeds for honey, coins for wine.
For example, archeologists found a
set of stairs in the middle of the road alongside one of the ancient shops. But
the staircase doesn’t go anywhere. It ends in a platform. When Ir David
checked, though, it found just one other similar set of stairs – in Rome, where
it was used as something like a Hyde Park-style Speakers’ Corner. Basically,
this was a place where people could make announcements and deliver speeches to
the pilgrims as they climbed the road to the Temple.
Then archeologists found beside the stairs the burned remains of a male palm tree,
one that doesn’t give fruit. Why would there be a non-fruit producing tree
right there on the road? To provide shade for the speakers.
“To understand Jerusalem, you need
to stand here,” Spielman said. “We were exiled in 70 CE and prayed three times
a day and established a state. The last breath of Jews was here, beneath us.”
Spielman pointed at some black ash discovered along the road and mentioned the
thousands of coins the archeologists uncovered engraved with the words “Free
“This was the battle cry during the
fight against the Romans,” he explained. “They made coins and not arrowheads,
because they knew they could not beat Rome, but they made the coins so there
would be something left for the people who would one day come back.”
DAVID has changed our understanding of history. It is one thing to read the
Mishna and imagine or visualize what life for Jews was once like. It is quite
another to walk on the exact same road as they did.
For the last few months, Ir David has been working around the clock to connect the
excavated part of the road with the Shiloah Pool. It is tedious work that has
to be done slowly. Every inch excavated has to be reinforced with steel beams
to protect the modern city above.
The project has so far cost several
hundred million dollars, and while the government has provided a portion of the
budget, most has come from private donors, such as Sheldon and Miriam Adelson,
Oracle founder Larry Ellison and WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum. Ir David hopes
that when the road officially opens in a few months, it will draw approximately
one million visitors a year.
Yisrael Hasson, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, noted:
“The Road project is a part of the Shalem Plan, which was approved in a
government cabinet meeting, the purpose of which is to preserve and develop the
area of ancient Jerusalem. The plan relates to the sites of ancient Jerusalem
from a comprehensive governmental planning and budgetary perspective, which
will create a holistic visitor experience in this unique area. We are currently
in the second phase of the plan, which will dramatically improve this entire